The fact that Brexit inventor Boris Johnson consumed cocaine and cannabis as a young man has so far been considered a marginal note in the UK.
But now that "Brexit-Boris" is serious about trying to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister on Downing Street 10, his own drug history is obviously embarrassing. Asked about this, the top candidate for the post of the new prime minister was embarrassed at a press conference.
The truth is already in black and white: Johnson has consumed cocaine as a student in Oxford at the age of 19. Before that, he tried cannabis. He admitted that twelve years ago. The drug-blessings made by four of his party colleagues in recent weeks also brought the former Foreign Minister's past back into the public eye.
The invited journalists therefore wanted to know only one thing on Wednesday: Is Johnson at his youthful sins? The Brexit hardliner, otherwise known for his clear announcements, did not want to comment on it.
Dodging press conference on cocaine experience
Asked if he had ever done anything illegal, Johnson replied that he may have passed the speed limit before.
Responding to the drug, Johnson replied that his experience had been addressed "many, many times" and immediately weighed it down: "Most people in this country want us to focus on what we do for them and for this great country can."
The evasive tone on this topic has almost become a tradition at Johnson. In an interview with "GQ" in 2007, Johnson made his near-confession: At that time he had said he enjoyed the white powder. It was probably then but a little something landed in his nose. Later, Johnson weakened the story again, claiming it was just icing sugar.
Johnson reacted in a different way than his party colleagues, including Environment Minister Michael Gove, Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. They had been reporting their "youthful sins" in the past few weeks. True to the motto: better talk about it yourself before someone else does it.
"The interesting question is, why does such a confession harm the campaign of Michael Gove, but not Boris's," "GQ" editor Piers Morgan tweeted immediately after the press conference. Particularly explosive: He had interviewed Boris in 2007: "Boris has admitted that he has taken cocaine. Clearly. I'm the one he confessed to, "Morgan wrote.
Cocaine history makes Johnson vulnerable
To be sure, indignation is likely to be contained in a large part of at least the urban British. But: For his opponents – and of whom there are plenty in the party – Johnson's cocaine past is a well-fed.
Some adversaries have even sworn to refuse the followers of the notorious know-it-all. His colleague Alan Duncan called Johnson "disgusting" when he had accused Tory boss Theresa May, she had "an explosive belt strapped to the British Constitution."
Most recently, Johnson had caused a stir in an interview on Sunday: in the Sunday Times, Johnson threatened to hold billions of agreed-upon Brexit withdrawals for the European Union, until there were better conditions and "greater clarity."
In Brussels, Johnson has only one like-minded – and his name is Nigel Farage.